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Thursday, January 30

We've all lost

I guess I can't just let it pass without saying something.  The announcement yesterday that Dirt Rag was shuttering its entire operation hit kinda hard.  I still had people that I'd consider friends and kindred spirits contributing to the magazine in various capacities.  Even though I only had a column (and one feature) for about three years, Dirt Rag has been with me for almost as long as I've been riding a mountain bike.

Although I'd been a woods biker since the late '80s, my involvement in racing didn't start until 1992.  We were living in the dark ages of thumb shifters, canti brakes, and toe clips.  There was no internet.  If I wanted to know anything about the local race scene in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, Dirt Rag was the source.  I'd drive over to the Bike Nashbar outlet store, buy my copy, and head straight to the back pages to look at the event schedule.  No, I did not have a subscription, as I was that special kinda poor that couldn't afford buying more than one at a time even tho it was costing me more annually.  I also needed an excuse to stop in and dig through the returns bin.

Doh.  R.I.P. Nashbar as well.

I can remember being in the presence of Dirt Rag people throughout my formative years of sport bike cycle racing from '92 until I moved to North Carolina in '96.  They were a staple on the scene, and to me, celebrities of a sort.

Anyways, I continued being a reader long after I'd left Ohio despite no longer "needing" the magazine to find races.  Their journalistic vision certainly stood out amongst the other magazines at the time (and always).  I subscribed to pretty much all of them once I had become financially stable enough to afford subscriptions.  Bike Mag, Bicycling, Bicycle Guide, MB Action, that other one that was somehow even worse than MB Action...

Dirt Rag stood head and shoulders above them all.  Eventually, they were just one of two subscriptions I continued to maintain.

When Karen Brooks (then editor) asked me at the behest of Adam B to write a regular article, I was flattered... pretty much accepted it on the spot.  You had to be shitting me.  I'd been writing my turd blerhg for years at that point, and now I had the chance to do something legit?

The funny part of the story would be that I'd submitted my first article, it published, and shortly after, I got an email...

"I guess we should talk about how much we're paying you..."

THEY'RE GOING TO PAY ME TO WRITE FOR DIRT RAG?!?!

And so for three years I sweated every single column I wrote.  I wanted it to be something that you wouldn't get here.  My best work that would be put on paper for all time.  No sooner than when I'd send my writings in, I'd be fretting about what to do next.  When I got asked to do a feature article about the BC Bike Race (AND A BIKE LAUNCH?) in 2013... I think that's when I knew that was it for me.  My favorite thing in life is living stress free... I mean "additional stress free."  I felt like I was back in college with papers, and homework, and tests always hanging over my head.  It was incredible to be a part of the club, and had I not been leaking most of my brain into this not-for-profit blerhg, mebbe I woulda had the energy to keep it up.  I did not.

Every single magazine that I've ever written in, or for some reason, just been in.  Honestly... an honor and a privilege.  I woulda never thought this was something that would happen in my life ever.  Someday, I'll be ded, and my kids will have to throw all this away for me.

Dirt Rag gave me opportunities that were beyond anything that I thought possible back when I was racing the citizen class at the Month of Mud in 1993.  So many new friends, "connections," and experiences... from the time I was scanning the events section for races to trying to not shit my pants while riding in a float plane at the BC Bike Race to doing the whole wedding ceremony thing for Scott and Jess on top of Wheeler at the Breck Epic.

So many things ONLY happened because of Dirt Rag, and I'm always going to wonder how this hole in my life will be filled from now on.  I hope that during my short time, I brought something to the table that will stick with at least one person the way that so many people from Dirt Rag got to me.

7 comments:

Gmatt said...

I am so sad to see them go.. i too had a subscription to a whole bunch of bike mags and dirtrag was the only one left. they had a vibe to them , and put on some amazing events. This Hurts

Anonymous said...

Good tribute. Thank. Sad.

Anonymous said...

You have exceeded your blergs per week quota.....

Anonymous said...

I have a lifetime subscription. Does this mean I’m going to die, now?

Seriously bummed. Started reading DR in the mid-80s, and I did jump on the lifetime offer, 12 or 13 years ago (whenever it was). I hate to see them go...

Anonymous said...

Above post is awesome!

Rob said...

Nicely said, Rich.
I can't quite put my finger on what the magic was there, but I too am pained to see Dirt Rag go. From the Gunnar years, to the Begy cover, to the old classified ads and race listings, I have so many favorite moments (in fact, I believe your column in there is why I started reading the blog). Maybe it was that living connection to a more innocent time before the internet?

Unknown said...

While I'm also devastated to see them go, I am happy that you're still here keeping much of the spirit alive. I came to "serious" type bike stuff a bit too late in life for Dirt Rag to have the type of seminal impact that it did for many others, but from the sound of it, it's pretty similar to the impact that this blog has had for me. It singlehandedly gave me the push to try singlespeeding, and ten plus years and dozens of races later, I've never looked back. I've learned about cool events, good new gear, and found a relateable voice for my own particular brand of particularness.

I'm not sure if the mourning of the passing of a legend is an appropriate time for effusive praise, or if like me, you don't really know what to do with people telling you that you're good at something, but I really did want to actually sit down and tell you how much this blog means to me. So for what the opinion of one midwestern jagoff is worth, meaningful bike "journalism" is still alive and kicking. Keep it up. You're a real one.